Straight from the Horse's Mouth

A critical look at what the FTAA says about itself.

by Jesse Nason

from Stop FTAA website


"The breadth of the negotiations which will be set in place by the San Jose Declaration is unprecedented even by the standards of the Uruguay Round. These negotiations will encompass all of those areas previously negotiated and which fall within the World Trade Organization's ambit, with the goal of going beyond previously agreed multilateral liberalization within the Hemisphere, wherever possible. Importantly, however, the FTAA negotiations will include areas not presently under the WTO such as a common investment regime, government procurement, and competition policy, which are not yet subject to commonly-agreed disciplines among a large number of trading nations."


What it means: Global capitalism (an economic system responsible for the impoverishment of billions of people for the sake of enriching a few dozen billionaires) will become even more entrenched under the FTAA. The notorious Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) - which was thwarted at the WTO meeting in Seattle - will show its ugly head again in the FTAA. Rules related to the investment or movement of capital will be eliminated.

"Free trade and increased economic integration are key factors for raising standards of living, improving the working conditions of people in the Americas and better protecting the environment."


What it means: The architects of the FTAA would like us to believe that the "market place" will somehow look out for the best interests of working people and the environment. But a look at the latter half of the Twentieth Century shows us just the opposite is true. For instance, between 1960 and 1993, the gap in per capita income between the industrial and developing worlds tripled (United Nations Human Development Report of 1996). An even scarier statistic: By 1999, the wealth of the world's 475 billionaires was greater than the combined income of the poorest half of humanity. (from "Field Guide to the Global Economy," pg. 53). At the same time, the 20th Century saw more environmental destruction than any other period in history.

"To advance economic integration and free trade, we will work, with cooperation and financing from the private sector and international financial institutions, to create a hemispheric infrastructure. This process requires a cooperative effort in fields such as telecommunications, energy and transportation, which will permit the efficient movement of the goods, services, capital, information and technology that are the foundations of prosperity."


What it means: The Structural Adjustment policies of the IMF and World Bank will become even more entrenched under the FTAA. Infrastructures and services once owned publicly will be gutted and sold off to corporations and investors based in the North. Decades of U.S. support for right wing death squads and military regimes, not to mention direct U.S. military invasions, will finally pay off once the last vestiges of socialism are eliminated from the South. The FTAA will make it even easier for the wealthy few to plunder the resources of less developed countries.

"We reiterate our commitment to avoid to the greatest extent possible the adoption of policies or measures that adversely affect trade and investment in the Hemisphere."


What it means: Profit, above all else. Laws that offers protection to laborers, farmers, communities or the environment would come under attack as corporations compete in their race to the bottom. Corpororations would be able to sue for "regulatory expropriation" if any governmental law reduced or potentially reduced the value of private commercial property.


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